Orchid Care

One of the most common questions I receive from
people having trouble with their orchids is some
variation on the following:

“Help! I’ve only had my orchid for a few days and
all the flowers have fallen off!  What am I
doing wrong?”

If you’re experiencing this problem, before trying to
figure out whether you’re doing something wrong,
it’s important to understand the natural blooming
cycle of your particular orchid.Some varieties only
bloom once a year, and their blooming period can be quite brief!

So let’s start by answering an important question:

How long is your orchid supposed to bloom if
healthy?

Naturally, the answer to this question depends on
the the type of orchid you’re growing.

So, for the purposes of today’s newsletter, let’s
look at the differences between two common
varieties – Cattleyas & Vandas.

Cattleyas, in spite of their popularity typically
only bloom once a year, during either Spring or
Autumn, and usually only for 7-12 days each time.

Vandas, by contrast will bloom 2-3 times a year,
in all seasons, and usually 30-90+ days each time!

What a difference, right?

That’s why it really pays to know which varieties
offer “the best bloom for your buck” :-)

Now, getting back to our original question -
let’s pretend for a moment that you have an
orchid that’s supposed to bloom for 30 days…
but you’ve only had it for a week and all the
flowers have fallen off!

What is going on, right?

Well there are actually a few other reasons why
your orchid may have suddenly lost all its
flowers…

REASON #1: RAPID CHANGE IN TEMPERATURE
Orchids are sensitive to any sudden changes in
their environment – and they’re particularly
sensitive to rapid changes in temperature.One of the most common reasons why a newly purchased orchid will suddenly lose its flowers
is because the plant goes through “shock” when it
is suddenly introduced to a new environment -
namely your home.A sudden change in temperature can also be the
cause of two other flower problems:1. Healthy plants with buds that shrivel and fall
off the stem before they have a chance to open
suffer from what’s called “bud blast.”  And a
rapid & sudden change in temperature is usually
to blame!2. If your flowers wither and look wrinkled
before they fall off, this can be happening
because your orchid is not getting sufficient
water. BUT it can ALSO be due to a sudden change
in your plant’s environment as well…REASON #2: YOUR ORCHID WAS ALMOST FINISHED ITS
BLOOMING PERIOD WHEN YOU PURCHASED IT

This is also another very common reason why a
newly purchased orchid will lose all its flowers
shortly after you bring it home.

Whenever you purchase an orchid that is in full
bloom at the time of purchase , you have no idea
how long the plant has already been flowering,
and therefore how much blooming period is left.

So in other words, if the variety you’ve just
purchased is supposed to bloom for 30 days, you have
no idea whether the plant was on Day 1 or Day 29
of its blooming cycle when you brought it home!

And flower shops will usually try to heavily
promote plants that are about to finish their
blooming cycle… because after all, it’s tough
to sell any flowering plant AFTER all the
flowers have fallen off! :-)

So here’s how to avoid both of these problems
next time you bring an orchid into your home:

1. Instead of purchasing an orchid that’s in full
bloom, purchase a plant with buds yet to open.

Orchid nurseries will refer to these plants as
being “In Spike” or “In Bud” and you can usually
ask them what varieties they currently have in
stock.

The nursery should also be able to tell you how
long it should take for your plant to reach its
next blooming cycle and produce flowers for you.

And here’s a tip:  If you’re looking to buy an
orchid as a gift and you want it to be in bloom
when that special person receives it, simply
purchase a plant that is currently “in bud” and
expected to bloom shortly before the special
occasion…

This way, the recipient will get to enjoy the
ENTIRE blooming period of the orchid (or at least
as close to the entire period as possible!)

2. By only purchasing plants “in bud” or “in
spike” you also give your orchid a chance to
stabilize itself in its new environment BEFORE it
has reaches its next flowering stage.  This means
that you’re less likely to suddenly lose all
those gorgeous blooms due to rapid changes in
your plant’s new environment.

3. Finally, only purchase plants from reputable
nurseries that specialize in orchids.

By now, you probably know that orchids have
unique care requirements that make them unlike
most houseplants.

And for this reason, it’s important that you work
with a nursery that specializes in and really
understands orchids – especially when it comes to
shipping and transporting plants, and here’s why:

For example, when an orchid is transported over
a long distance in a non-temperature controlled
environment, this can cause a great deal of
stress on the plant – usually leading to “bud
blast”, but often resulting in even more serious
damage which can be very difficult to recover
from.

So to sum things up, only purchase plants that
are “in spike” or “in bud” and try to only
purchase from nurseries that specialize in
orchids!

To healthy, vibrant blooms!

Thanks again!